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Green Pastures and Still Waters

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Green Pastures and Still Waters

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March 1, 2017

At 2:30 a.m. I received an alert on my cell phone for a flash flood warning. I cracked our master bedroom door open so that if our two daughters (7 and 9 years old) got scared they could crawl into our bed. At 2:35 a.m. I received another alert, this time it was for a tornado warning. Any other day I typically would have dismissed this, rolled over, and gone back to sleep. However, I heeded this warning.

Looking back I know God instilled urgency in me. Not fear, but urgency. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×
).

I then woke up my husband and said, “Get dressed; we have to go to the basement.” As he was getting dressed, I ran to our daughters’ bedroom and woke them up saying the same thing. As I was standing in the middle of their room the air pressure changed instantaneously. The air was thick and it felt like it was closing in on me. With even more urgency I screamed, “We have to go now!”

We ran out of their room, across the living room and kitchen, then they headed down the basement stairs with me to follow and then my husband. We were halfway down the stairs when a large crash and shake occurred. We screamed, and as my husband recounts, he didn’t know if a feather pillow exploded, seeing white fluffy stuff fly down the stairs. We later realized he was being shot in the back of the neck with insulation, which means the ceiling of our kitchen that we just run past had fallen down. The white fluffy stuff was the insulation from our walls and ceilings. We didn’t have five seconds to spare, as we were halfway down the stairs when the tornado hit. God’s timing was perfect, as always!

As we slid under the stairs we held the girls as they were shaking. Nausea set in as we sat there for 30 additional minutes waiting for the storm to pass. I called family members to check in on them, and as we sat there my husband decided to check out the house and see if there was damage. He was gone for about 10 minutes, and when he returned he simply said, “I need to find an escape route.” My heart sank realizing our house was destroyed.

I called my dad and said we would be on our way to their house, as our home was destroyed, but God indeed protected us in the middle of a tornado. For 23 days my parents graciously provided a room in their home for us to stay as we collected remains of baby pictures and clothing. We currently are still working with our insurance adjuster and builder. Our home is scheduled to have a demolition and rebuilding date of June 1.

Looking back on this horrific event, I take a note that our lives can easily parallel a leaf. A leaf grows on a tree, so delicate and fragile as our lives. A leaf has many different paths to take. It can stay connected to the trunk of the tree and grow to produce fruit. Or it can be torn from the tree, tossed to and fro in the wind just as Ephesians 4:14 Ephesians 4:14That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
American King James Version×
says: “That we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” God and His infinite mercy allowed us to stay on the tree. He allowed us to have life and to continue growing, hopefully with much fruit.

April 9, 2017

I received a phone call from my dad, possibly the worst phone call I will ever receive. This phone call informed me that my niece, 22 years of age, was airlifted to the University of Cincinnati Hospital. My husband and I were in the middle of cleaning for the Days of Unleavened Bread and Passover. My niece’s parents (my brother and sister-in-law) were hours away as they were getting ready for the Passover service at another congregation. My husband and I dropped everything and rushed to the hospital to be by my niece’s side. As our family gathered around her side for the next six days, our hearts grieved for a mind that was no longer present.

April 14, 2017

My beautiful niece died. She left her son of 7 months old, whom our family will care for over the days and years to come.

April 23, 2017

My brother and sister-in-law held a memorial service for their sweet daughter. It is this day we had to bury her so prematurely.

Present Day

Where do we go from here? Our home is gone; our hearts are broken. One of our ministers came up to me on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. He simply said: “You have been through so much. It is okay to pray for green pastures and still waters.” Wow. My prayers usually are geared toward helping me overcome my weaknesses and my sins. But to pray for green pastures and still waters has never occurred to me. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters” (Psalms 23:2 Psalms 23:2He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

Green Pastures

Scripture says He makes me lie down in green pastures. I tend to be a very analytical person, overthinking much of the time. As I analyze what green pastures means it occurs to me that at times my thoughts run wild. Scripture says to bring every thought into captivity: “Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×
). Scripture also tells us to think of good things: “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8 Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
American King James Version×
). It also says we need to have the mind of Jesus: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×
).

It occurred to me that praying for green pastures allows Jesus to make me lie down and rest. I must not overthink and dwell on the thoughts that He would not have me dwell on. I must allow Him to give my mind rest.

Still Waters

“He leads me beside the still waters.” What does this mean as I continue analyzing? He leads me to peace and comfort. This peace I cannot obtain on my own. He must fill my heart and mind through His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, with daily peace.

Surrender Completely

In two months we have lost our home, our physical possessions, and my beautiful niece. What have I learned through this process? So much. But if I had to choose one word it would be “surrender.” Every storm, every tornado, every trial, every wind, every heartache, every loss, I must surrender. I must surrender my heart, and I must surrender my mind. I must allow Christ to take that burden when my human nature battles within my mind. I must surrender to the green pastures and still waters. It’s the only way I can get through.

People have suggested that I allow God to carry me, but I didn’t really know what this meant until the tornado occurred. I, physically, emotionally and spiritually, have felt our loving Father in His tender mercies carry me. All I have to do is be still, and He carries me. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10 Psalms 46:10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
American King James Version×
).

There have been days I stare into space out of shock, days I’ve cried out in anger, and days when human nature creeps in and my mind wanders off the beaten path. It is then I repent, refocus and surrender. I lift my hands to our omnipotent Father and say, “I am yours and You are mine.” I am his daughter. And He is my God.

Behold, I Make All Things New

Our home and contents will be restored. Through this process, we are seeing that God is blessing us so much. Our home will be rebuilt and our lives will move forward. We are being blessed with a new home. However, our family is left with a crack in our hearts. I long to see my niece again. As I said my goodbyes to her in the hospital I told her I read Revelation 21:1-5 Revelation 21:1-5 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
American King James Version×
to our daughters that morning. Verse 5 says, “Behold, I make all things new.” I told my niece the next time I see her in the resurrection she will be made new. “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.’ And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Revelation 21:3-5 Revelation 21:3-5 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
American King James Version×
).

Her mind will be made new; her body will be made new. I long for this day and what joy and hope it gives me in the midst of heartache. This is what it means to rejoice in trials. “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12 Romans 12:12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
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). I rejoice in hope. I will see her beautiful blue eyes again. In the midst of tornados let us not be tossed to and fro, but let us grow much fruit as God wills and purposes for us.

Let us lift our hands to our merciful Father and say, “I am yours and You are mine,” in complete surrender, for His grace is sufficient. “And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9 2 Corinthians 12:9And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
American King James Version×
). Let us surrender our minds to lie down and rest in green pastures. Let us allow Him to lead us to still waters, being filled with comfort and peace. May we continually seek the green pastures and still waters that only He can provide in times of trials and tribulations.